Category Archives: cookbook review

Party Food!

One of the reasons I love to cook and bake is because I can share what I’ve made with people.  If you are in a similar dietary situation to me, you’ve probably come across the same endless questions and comments from people, like “What DO you eat?,” “Not being able to eat xx must be so difficult,” “I wouldn’t be able to live without xx, I couldn’t do what you do.”  I’ve found the best way to respond to these situations is with delicious food (in addition to keeping a blog to showcase what it is exactly that I eat).  Also, often being the only gluten-free and vegan person in the room means that if you want to eat something, you will have to bring it yourself.  The holiday season brings with it many events centred around food, and for me that means making lots and lots of food.  I absolutely love it, although there are times when I wish I could show up to an event and not have to worry about what food is going to be there and whether or not I can eat it.

I hosted a holiday party in December, and kind of forgot to blog about it until now!

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This picture shows most of what I made for that party, although there were a few dips and snacks that wouldn’t fit on this table (tomatillo salsa, anyone?).  In the top left, I’ve got some caramel corn, from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  I love Colleen’s recipes, and this was the best vegan baking book I ever had before going gluten-free.  Unfortunately, most recipes are not gluten-free, but if you are not gluten-free, I can’t recommend this book enough!  Beside the popcorn are mini cupcakes.  I used the gluten-free vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I filled them with raspberry jam and topped them with a butter cream icing.  Under the cupcakes, I sliced up some Aidan’s gluten-free baguette and toasted it in the oven.  Beside that, I made some white bean and artichoke dip from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan! On the right side of the table, I have some chips, crackers (including Mary’s) and hummus, topped with Sriracha.

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At the center of the table is the item I was most proud of: vegan cheese!  I mentioned a while ago that I had picked up a copy of Artisan Vegan Cheese, an amazing new book full of vegan cheese recipes.  It wasn’t until recently that I got the chance to try out the recipes.  Many of the recipes involve quite a bit of planning as the recipes may take several weeks from start to finish.  Most of this time does not actually involve doing anything, so they are not too difficult.  I decided to make camembert, gouda and a soft chevre, rolled in cilantro and pepper.  They were so amazing and I can’t wait to make more!

Another party I went to was a Superbowl party.  My friends and I have an annual tradition of making large amounts of food and watching the game together.  This year, I made some buffalo tofu wings, which I usually only save for making on this day, mostly due to the frying, then cooking in hot sauce and vegan butter…..  Here is a recipe that is pretty similar to what I do.  I made two blocks of tofu into wings, and they were all gone by the end of the game.

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I also wanted to make something more sweet, so I jumped on the cookie dough hummus bandwagon.   I didn’t think it could possibly be as good as the internet was telling me, but I tried it out anyway.  I tried Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Cookie Dough Dip recipe, and for dipping, I made Allyson Kramer’s Graham Cracker recipe.  Unfortunately, I don’t think cookie dough dip is for me.  I added the full amount of sugar and I still felt like it needed to be sweeter.  I first attempted the graham cracker recipe, forgetting to include the xantham gum.  Let’s just say I now know that the recipe needs the gum for it to work.  My second batch with the gum turned out pretty tasty, although my crackers were somewhere in between crackers and gingerbread cookies.  I had some cookie dough dip left over, so I made it into cookies.  I baked them at about 350 for 15 minutes.  I think I prefer my cookie dough this way. However, there are many glowing reviews for the dip recipe, so I might be in the minority on this one.  If you are intrigued to try it yourself, I say go for it!

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Blueberry Squares!

My favourite book over the past few months has been by far Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family.  I have been making all of the veggie burger recipes in the book, and they are great!  The burgers are healthy, often inexpensive and easy to make, and they taste great.  I recently made the Blueberry Oat Squares, and they are by far the best blueberry squares I’ve ever had!  Full disclosure, I had made some other blueberry squares using a recipe I found online earlier this week, and they were the worst ones I have ever had.  They called for mashed banana mixed in with the blueberries, which sounds good, but when it baked it turned the banana into a terrible concentrated banana mush.  So I’ve been on both extremes of the blueberry square taste spectrum this week.  It has been a pretty wild ride, but I’m happy to say I’ve landed on the good side of the taste spectrum with this recipe.

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They are vegan, and have a gluten-free option if you can tolerate oats.  As a bonus, there is no white sugar to be found, just maple syrup.  Seriously delicious.  Every recipe in this book has been a winner!

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Adventures in Bread Making

My first job was working in a bakery in a grocery store.  I used to love making breads, proofing the dough and cooking them until they were golden brown and I could hear a hollow sound when I tapped on the bottom.  Although I used to be pretty good at making wheat and gluten filled breads, gluten-free breads follow slightly different techniques, which I admittedly do not know as much as I wish I did about them.

A while ago I got the book Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread, by Jennifer Katzinger.  I skimmed through the book, and was very excited about the techniques and ingredients she uses in the book.  The flours are nutritious and whole grain, there is no white sugar to be found, and minimal gums are used in the recipes.  Unfortunately, there are still not nearly as many vegan and gluten-free cookbooks as there are vegan, or just gluten-free.  So when I found what seemed to be the first gluten-free and vegan bread book, I couldn’t wait to make my own bread, instead of relying on the gross, over-priced, freezer burnt frozen blocks from the grocery store.

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I couldn’t decide which bread to make first, so I went with the first recipe in the book, the Country Batard bread.  I was surprised at the baking time and temperature for this bread.  The recipe called for 2 hours at 400+ degrees Celsius.  I assumed that this was due to the loaf being more of a wet-style batter due to being gluten-free.  I was wrong! I took the loaf out a bit early, but it was still a dense, burnt brick.  I had to throw it out and looked into some reviews online.  Apparently, the author’s oven wasn’t working properly while she came up with the recipes.  I also discovered that the recipes use instant yeast, instead of regular, which was never explicitly indicated in the recipe.  She had published an errata, which is four pages long!  I tried out the recipe, with the changes, and it actually turned out pretty well.  Still, it is kind of crazy that someone could publish a cookbook without trying to reproduce the recipes elsewhere, or getting some testers involved.  I’ll be trying some other recipes from the book in the weeks to come, so hopefully they turn out a bit better than my first attempt.

(The soup in the picture above is a lentil and carrot puree with red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, ginger, cumin, silken tofu, soy milk and veggie broth cooked and blended together with some sriracha for good measure)

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Let Them Eat Vegan!, a Cookbook Review

Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan! offers easy to make recipes that are sure to be new favourites. I received this book in the mail while I was away in India, so I’ve been waiting all summer to come home and crack it open.  The wait was justified, because I was excited to find a collection of delicious, healthy, vegan recipes, many of which were gluten-free or had the option to be made gluten-free.  What I love about Dreena’s recipes is that they all seem to be the types of recipes that are easy to prepare, using easy-to-find ingredients to make recipes that everyone seems to love.

In her newest book, there is a collection of recipes ranging from dips, such as the peanut tahini sauce, tarts, like the festive chickpea tart to desserts, such as a raspberry almond torte.  I have had the chance to make a few recipes from the book, all with great success.

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Jerk chickpeas and balsamic roasted fennel from the book, with some kale, rice and avocado.

First, I decided to make jerk chickpeas. This recipe involved baking chickpeas in a jerk spice blend. It was very easy to make and tasted great. I decided to serve it with a mish-mash of sides including balsamic roasted fennel (also from the book), kale sauteed with onions, garlic, sesame seeds and lime, rice cooked with onion, lime zest, cumin and coriander, and some slices of avocado, as is suggested in the book. I used to hate fennel, but this recipe caramalizes the fennel and gives it a milder flavour. It was really good. I had leftover jerk chickpeas and they tasted great the next day as well.

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Kale-slaw with curried almond dressing.

After being in India without a kitchen for so long, I was craving a raw salad. I chose to make the kale-slaw to use my leftover kale and fennel from the previous meal. This slaw combines kale, fennel, apple, cranberries and carrots in a creamy almond-based curried dressing. Yum! I kept the leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days without the dressing and it kept quite well.

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Mediterranean bean burgers, kale-slaw with curried almond dressing.

The Mediterranean bean burgers were delicious. Beans, oats and some other ingredients and seasonings are mixed together into the food processor to make them. These were very good, too.

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Artichoke and white bean dip.

The photo doesn’t do this artichoke and white bean dip justice. I brought it to a party, where it was devoured and met with rave reviews. It was a light and fresh dip, which went great with veggie sticks.

Pecan pie with a gluten-free crust.

I also tried out a dessert recipe from the book – pecan pie, using the gluten-free pie crust recipe. The pie crust was the easiest crust I have ever made. It comes together quickly in the food processor, and is easy to roll between parchment sheets. I think I’m going to get into making pies now that I have this great recipe. My household taste tester prefers a sweeter pecan pie, so I added a chocolate drizzle on top, which seemed to do the trick.

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I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for healthy and delicious recipes their whole family will enjoy. I can’t wait to make more items from this book!

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Cheese Making!

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I recently got the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, and decided to try out a couple of recipes. The right cheese is brie, and the left one is pepper jack, with jalapenos. They both used the same set of main ingredients: agar, cashews, nutritional yeast, silken tofu and some spices. Then you pour the mixture in a mould and cool it in the fridge. Both turned out well, although they had a similar taste and texture. Behind the cheese is a gluten-free baguette by Aiden’s Bread. It is awesome, as is all of their other products I have tried.

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Pad Thai

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Recipe for the sauce is from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Vegan Table. Yum!

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Babycakes: Cupcakes and Muffins

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Chocolate Cupcakes

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was one of the people who pre-ordered the Babycakes book. Although it wasn’t that long ago, at the time the book came out, there weren’t really any vegan and gluten-free cookbooks (Luckily there are a few out now that are pretty good). As soon as I got the book, I tried a couple of recipes, but none of them turned out! It was a pretty big disappointment, and the ingredients involved were a bit expensive, so I shelved the book until recently.

I am happy to report that both of these recipes turned out! The cupcakes can be found here, and the banana chocolate chip muffins are from the book. I might take another look at the book and see if I can get anything else to work. Here’s hoping!

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Oat Flour Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce

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Another hit from the book, Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes! The recipe called for a bit of cornmeal to add some texture to the pancakes, but because I try not to eat corn, I substituted an equal amount of stone ground buckwheat flour. They turned out really well! I left them to cool on a cooling rack and I will keep some in the fridge, and maybe try freezing the rest.

I made the raspberry sauce myself. If you have never made a fruit sauce before, it is really simple.

Here’s my recipe:

2 c frozen berries
1 t vanilla
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 t lemon juice

Cook the above ingredients over medium-high heat until reduced by about half.

Stir in 1 t of tapioca flour and remove from heat.

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Grape Crumble Cake

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Recipe from the Welcoming Kitchen, but instead of blueberries, I used coronation grapes. It is pretty delicious, and doesn’t go stale right away like a lot of gluten-free baked goods.

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Dinner

Mashed potatoes with mushroom and onion gravy, a tofu loaf with gluten-free stuffing and biscuits from the Welcoming Kitchen. The biscuits were so easy to make and turned out really well. So far, after the chocolate chip cookies and now the biscuits, this book is awesome!

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